Author: Holly Cupala
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen; Original edition (January 3, 2012)
Buy the book: Paperback | Kindle
Joy Delamere is suffocating.I'm going to start off by saying that this book had WAY more profanity than I usually read or care for in a book. Now that I got that out of the way, I'm going to gush.
From asthma, from her parents, and from her boyfriend, Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out. She can take his cruel words, his tender words . . . until the night they go too far.
To escape, Joy sacrifices her suburban life to find the one who offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. He introduces her to a world of fierce loyalty, to its rules of survival, and to love—a world she won’t easily let go.
Set against the backdrop of the streets of Seattle, Holly Cupala’s powerful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the secrets we keep, and the ways to redemption. But above all, it is an unflinching story about the extraordinary lengths one girl will go to discover her own strength.
At a glance:
Don't Breathe a Word is an amazingly powerful and fantastically written book that shows you the harsh realities of abuse, teenage homelessness, and other tough issues, without being depressing or losing that sense of hope I long for when reading a book. It was heartbreaking, but it was also funny and exciting and romantic and beautiful. Even if you don't normally read contemporary, I think you will love this book.
I don't read a whole lot of contemporary. Especially books that tend to deal with issues, whether it's abuse, disorders, drugs, or the like. I just tend lean more toward fantasy, paranormal, or dystopia. But I did read Holly Cupala's Tell Me a Secret and really connected with it, so I was excited to read Don't Breathe a Word, to see what Holly would do this time. This book blew the roof off any contemporary I've ever read. I loved it!
I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Holly wrote it in such a way that you never felt hopeless. You could always see a light at the end of the tunnel. She also wrote in past and present, using flashbacks to reveal more and more about why Joy ran away, and the abuse and shame that she had to endure before leaving. There was a mystery element the book had that added to the appeal of the story, and the pacing was perfect.
I fell in love with each and every one of the characters. Ok, maybe not Asher.....ack! But the others, even when they were being total idiots, I just wanted to adopt them, and take care of them and tell them they are worth something. I loved Joy, and CREED!!! Especially Creed! I loved that even though he was a broken person, he still did all he could to protect the others. I can't tell you how much I love listening to someone play guitar and sing, so I could just hear Creed in my head. Two of the characters I felt the most for, though, were May and Santos. They seriously just made me want to cry.
Holly did such an amazing job with the intensity and the setting as well. I was in constant fear for the lives of these kids. Whether it was from creepy stalker guy, or Asher, or the police, or other gangs, my nerves were standing on end all the time. I felt like I could see the places that they were living and "working" at in Seattle. I've never been there before, yet I could picture it all clearly in my head. Some will undoubtedly say that the ending was unrealistic, but just because something isn't probable, it doesn't mean it couldn't happen. I thought it was perfect. I would have been upset with anything less.
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- Sexual Content: Heavy
- Profanity: Very Heavy
- Violence: Moderate, including abuse
- Other Notables: Drinking, Drug use, Prostitution, Teenage Homelessness, Theft
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